Follow these safe winter driving tips and protect yourself when out on the road in bad weather.
With the British weather unpredictable as ever, we’ve put together a quick survival guide of the Dos and Don'ts when it comes to winter driving.
Snow & Ice
DO drive in as high a gear as possible.
Accelerate slowly and change up gears as soon as you can. This will help your tyres grip the road and reduce the chance of skidding.
DON'T be late.
Make sure you give yourself sufficient extra time to make sure your car is snow-free before setting out. Obviously, snow on the windscreen could hinder your vision, but snow on your roof could also be dangerous if it slides off on to your windscreen or on to that of another road user.
Hitachi Top Tip: The best way to de-ice your windscreen is with a de-icing solution and a scraper. Using the method of hot water can crack your windscreen and cause black ice on the ground, while simply sitting with the fans on wastes fuel as well as your time.
DO slow down.
We’re so used to seeing rain in Britain that is doesn’t register in our minds as dangerous weather, but it is. The best thing you can do in rain is slow down and take it easy. It may take a little longer to get where you need to be, but it will keep drivers safe and the traffic flowing.
DON'T drive too close to the car in front.
The required stopping distance doubles when the road surface is wet so make sure you’re consciously hanging back and leaving enough space between you and the car ahead. As a guide, the RAC determines that a car travelling at 30mph would need 6 car-lengths stopping distance, so that would be 12 in wet conditions.
DO do your research.
Find out where troublesome areas are. The local council will usually hold information on where to avoid if possible, and always check weather updates on your route before you leave the house.
DON'T attempt to speed through.
If there’s no way to avoid driving through the floodwater, ensure you’re moving slowly and stay in first gear, keeping the engine speed high to avoid water getting into the exhaust.
DO use your fog lights.
This one sounds obvious, but a startling number of people admit to not knowing when they should use their fog lights, or how to switch them on in their current car. According to The Highway Code, fog lights should only be used when the visibility drops below 100m. If you’re not sure where the switch is, find out from your manufacturer.
DON'T mistake your fog lights for your full beam headlights.
Full beam lights can be hazardous when used incorrectly, especially when foggy as they light up the fog causing the reflection to blind both the driver and other road users. Find out where both are before you need to use them.
DO take a sheltered route.
Avoid motorways where possible and always choose routes that are sheltered to reduce the effect of gusts.
DON'T drive too fast or too slow.
Overtaking can cause issues when winds are high because it can throw you or other drivers off balance. But make sure you're not being overly cautious too, as this can cause frustration with other road users and encourage poor decisions. Drive sensibly, at a speed that’s comfortable for you and in line with everyone else.
Thinking of getting a new car? Take a look at our pick of the safest cars for winter.
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